iMail for Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Machinists Warn of Manufacturing Meltdown

Following news that another 787,000 Americans were unemployed in May, the IAM renewed its call for a second economic stimulus measure aimed at restoring the nation’s battered manufacturing base.

“Contrary to what some are saying, I see no cause for cheer in the latest unemployment figures,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Over 30.2 million Americans are now unemployed or underemployed. We need to recognize how serious the situation is and we need immediate help to keep the country’s manufacturing core from melting down completely.”

Buffenbarger called on the Obama administration and members of Congress to begin crafting emergency legislation to provide funds to begin rebuilding the nation’s manufacturing infrastructure and to provide unemployed workers with the training and support needed to sustain a real recovery.

“This is the worst economy in 75 years and we need bold measures that are equal to the crisis we’re facing,” said Buffenbarger. “No sector of our economy is in greater peril than manufacturing, and no other sector provides a greater return on investment. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”

FedEx Launches Campaign to Deny Organizing Rights

On the heels of an overwhelming vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide uniform organizing rights for workers in the package delivery industry, FedEx this week announced a multi-million dollar campaign to preserve current language that has allowed FedEx to stifle organizing drives for more than a decade.

“FedEx has taken corporate arrogance to a new level with their latest campaign,” declared Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski. “With a legion of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions, FedEx expects to maintain the unfair advantage they slipped into a bill more than a decade ago, giving them a huge advantage over their competitors, while keeping a chokehold on their employees.”

Unlike most workers in the package delivery industry, who are governed by the National Labor Relations Act, the ground workers at FedEx are covered by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), a critical distinction when it comes to organizing. Under the RLA, workers can only organize in a single, national bargaining unit, rather than by individual locations. The cost and complexity of a national organizing campaign at hundreds of separate locations has effectively prevented significant union organizing at FedEx.

FedEx has a long and ugly history of violating workers rights, including the widespread designation of FedEx employees as “independent contractors.” In addition to misclassifying employees, FedEx routinely failed to pay Social Security, workers’ comp, overtime pay and state withholding taxes.

Tell Congress to Support F-22 Funding

As the current fleet of F-15s ages, the U.S. Air Force will face a critical shortage of fighter aircraft in the near future. But, the Department of Defense has called for stopping production of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world—the F-22 Raptor. If this happens tens of thousands of good paying U.S. jobs will be cut, including thousands of IAM jobs at Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Pratt and Whitney.

Maintaining funding of the F-22 will support 25,000 high-skill, high-wage jobs in 44 states, including thousands of IAM members who make the air frame and engines for the fighter. An estimated 70,000 indirect jobs are also impacted the program. “As our nation struggles to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, this is not the time to be eliminating good-paying jobs and a highly successful program critical to our nation’s defense,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger.

Click here to contact your Senators and members of Congress to let them know that America cannot afford to undermine the strength of our defense industrial base or to short change our national defense. Tell Congress that we need to fund an additional twenty F-22 Raptors in the 2010 Fiscal Year Defense Appropriations.

Oklahoma Machinists Vote to Strike

District 171 DBR Jerry McCune speaks with members of Local 898 in Enid, OK, who voted overwhelmingly to strike for a better contract.

IAM members of Local 898 in Enid, OK, set up picket lines this week following a sub-standard offer from contracting companies CSC Applied Technologies LLC and its sub-contractors, PRI/DJI, DenMar Services and M1 Support Services at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK.

Local 898 represents nearly 775 workers at the air base who perform a wide range of functions, including airfield management operations, civil engineering, information technology, supply, transportation and community services, as well as maintenance for the Vance training fleet of T-6A, T-38 and T-1 aircraft.

“The IAM worked hard to come to a fair and reasonable agreement, but CSC put forth a contract full of takeaways and attacks on the contractual rights of the workers,” said District 171 Directing Business Representative Jerry McCune. “These workers are proud of the mission at Vance and we’re proud of the support they provide. We do not take this action lightly. We hope that CSC will return to the bargaining table and negotiate an agreement that will end this dispute. We are prepared to return to negotiations at any time.”

The IAM filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board concerning the actions of the company negotiators and management during negotiations, including bad faith bargaining, threats, coercion and direct dealing with the union members, bypassing the union negotiators.

“The members of Local 898 are dedicated professionals and they have every right to demand fair treatment and an equitable contract,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “CSC should return to the table immediately and negotiate an end to this strike.”

The IAM has set up a blog at for information and communication for IAM members and the community.

Tentative Agreement at Air Canada Preserves Pensions

After weeks of intense negotiations the IAM and two other unions reached a tentative agreement with Air Canada. The agreement was hammered out with the assistance of federal government appointed mediator Justice James Farley whose mandate was to help the unions solve challenges related to pension funding.

“We went into these negotiations with the goal of protecting our pensions, our collective agreements and job security without making concessions and we’ve been successful,” explained IAM District 140 President and Directing General Chairperson Chuck Atkinson.

The agreement includes a 21-month past service funding deferral on the pension plan and a number of non-monetary improvements meant to address work-life issues. The Defined Benefit pension plan remains intact with benefits protected and no other concessions were made. Included in the portion on pensions is an agreement with Pionairs, the group representing more than 15,000 retired Air Canada workers.

The Canadian Auto Workers’ (CAW) current collective agreement expired on May 31 and the agreement with the IAM and the Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association (CALDA) both expire at the end of June. CALDA represents 70 flight dispatchers, the CAW represents 4,500 customer service agents and the IAM represents 12,300 technical, maintenance and operational support workers at Air Canada.

Reserve Now for IAM Aerospace Conference

The deadline for hotel reservations for the IAM Aerospace Conference is June 12, 2009, to receive the special room rate of $215 per night for a single or double. Local and District Lodges who have not made reservations can call the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa Hotel toll free at 800-445-8667.

Registration will take place July 14 from 2:00 to 6:00 pm, and again on July 15 from 7:00 to 9:00 am. The Conference opens on Wednesday, July 15, at 9:00 am and will adjourn no later than 11:00 am Saturday, July 18. The Conference, chaired by General Vice President Rich Michalski, will focus on exploring new approaches for servicing our members, expanding our membership, and securing aerospace industry jobs in North America.

In addition, the Executive Council plans to honor retiring General Vice President Lee Pearson with a dinner the evening of Friday, July 17. Conference attendees are cordially invited to attend.

Contact Karen Peek in the IAM Aerospace Department at 301-967-4097 should you have any questions.

Also, if you haven’t turned in your 2009 IAM Aerospace Report form, please do so immediately. If you have any questions regarding the form, please call Teresa Canning in the IAM Strategic Resources Department at 301-967-3441.